College Of Hot Rod Knowledge – How To Get Your Whitewall Tires White

Ever wonder why your whitewalls look brown or yellowed?

Well, in the latest episode of Rod Authority’s “College of Hot RodKnowledge,” we’ll teach you not only how to get your whitewall tires really white, but why they discolor to begin with.

If you’re like us, you want your ride to look great, and dull, dingy whitewall tires are a fly in that ointment. After owning over 35 cars, Rod Authority Editor Dave Cruikshank will show you the method he uses to get whitewalls looking their very best, with a minimum fuss and without using super strong chemicals.

First off, why do white walls turn brown?

What’s happening is that the liner between the black rubber and the white rubber inside the tire is porous. As the tire moves through the manufacturing process, black oils leech up through the white walls. So the discoloration we see, is actually coming from behind the whitewall and cleaning it is a temporary solution at best. Sorry to break the new to you folks…

The tires on our 1976 Seville seems to leech a lot of oil and we usually only get only a week or so after we clean them before they start browning again. The good news is, you can stay on top of this with regular cleanings. Here’s the system we use to get whitewalls really white.

To start, make sure the wheels and tires are clean and cool. Wear nitrile gloves available at any Harbor Freight or hardware store. We use a wire brush made of brass. We don’t like steel wool pads because not only are they hard on your fingers, but fine steel particulates can be left behind and cause rust stains on the whitewall.

Some people like Scotch green pads or sandpaper and those do work, but we prefer the brass brush with a handle as again, it keeps hands away from chemicals.

Next, We use Black Magic’s–formerly Wesley’s– Bleche-White. This stuff used to be really corrosive but after Black Magic bought the company a few years ago, the formula was revised and seems to have been mellowed out a bit.

Don’t  use oven cleaner! It’s very corrosive and spraying the stuff around paint scares the heck out of us. Some folks like Comet or other dry powder cleaners and while they do work, they cause a big mess.

We also have a spray bottle of water handy at all times. Never let any chemicals sit undiluted on paint, chrome or alloy wheels as etching could occur. Have some dirty shop towels and microfiber towels nearby as well.

Because we started with clean tires and wheels, we like to spray the Bleche-White on a dry tire. Let the chemical “dwell” for a minute or two. “Dwell,” is a detail term for letting a product linger on a surface and do it’s business.

Keep the spray bottle and rag handy to immediately dilute and/or wipe off any overspray. Next, scrub the heck out of ’em. The brass bristles are extra sharp and really cut through the oily  film.

Follow that by cleaning the black portion of the tire with a medium plastic bristle brush. Then rinse with a hose or spray bottle. Wipe the tires and rims off to remove any residual chemicals and you’re done.

One additional tip, if you’re going to use tire dressing, keep it away from the white portion of the tire. It can cause discoloration too.

And there you have it! Did you know your car drives better with clean whitewalls? It does, trust us!

Stay tuned for more episodes of RodAuthority’s “College Of Hot Rod Knowledge” soon.

About the author

Dave Cruikshank

Dave Cruikshank is a lifelong car enthusiast and an Editor at Power Automedia. A zealous car geek since birth, he digs lead sleds, curvy fiberglass, kustoms and street rods. He currently owns a '95 Corvette, '76 Cadillac Seville, '99 LS1 Trans Am and big old Ford Van.
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